The International Energy Agency (IEA) is calling for more speed in the energy transition as global carbon emissions from power generation remain at record levels. Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 0.9 percent or 321 million tons in 2022 and reached a peak of over 36.8 billion tons, the IEA said in Paris on Thursday. In order to achieve climate and energy goals, increased measures to switch to clean energies are necessary. In 2021, the increase in CO2 emissions worldwide was still six percent.

“The impact of the energy crisis has not led to the sharp rise in global emissions initially feared – thanks to outstanding growth in renewable energy, electric vehicles, heat pumps and energy-efficient technologies,” said IEA Director Fatih Birol. Without clean energy, the increase in CO2 emissions would have been almost three times as high. “However, we are still seeing increases in emissions from fossil fuels, which is hampering efforts to meet global climate targets.”

Rising CO2 emissions

International and national companies that work with fossil fuels made record sales and had to take their share of the responsibility – according to their promises to achieve the climate goals, the IEA boss demanded. “It is vital that they review their strategies to ensure they are geared towards meaningful emissions reductions.”

Carbon emissions from coal rose 1.6 percent last year, according to reports, as the global energy crisis prompted a gas-to-coal shift in Asia and, to a lesser extent, Europe. Natural gas emissions fell 1.6 percent as supply tightened after Russia invaded Ukraine and European companies and citizens sought to reduce gas consumption.

The CO2 emissions from oil rose even more than those from coal, namely by 2.5 percent. However, they are still below pre-pandemic levels. Air travel, which continued to recover from the pandemic, accounted for about half of the year-on-year increase in oil emissions, according to the IEA.

CO2 emissions in China unchanged

In China, carbon dioxide emissions remained broadly flat in 2022 as strict Covid-19 measures and a slowdown in construction activity would have led to weaker economic growth and reduced emissions from industry and transport. In the EU, emissions fell by 2.5 percent as record use of renewable energy helped coal consumption not be as high as observers had expected. A mild start to the European winter and energy saving measures in response to the Russian invasion also contributed.

In the United States, emissions increased by 0.8 percent as extreme temperatures increased energy consumption in buildings. Excluding China, emissions in emerging and developing Asia rose 4.2 percent, reflecting rapid economic growth and higher energy demand, according to the IEA.